Cryopreservation of murine spermatozoa.

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Cryopreservation of mouse sperm provides an economic option for preserving the large number of mouse strains now being generated by transgenic and targeted mutation methodologies. The ability of a spermatozoan cell to survive cryobiological preservation depends on general biophysical constraints that apply to all cells, such as the avoidance or minimization of the formation of intracellular ice during cooling. This action is typically achieved by use of cryoprotectant substances and by controlled, slow rates of cooling. Superimposed on those general constraints may be special characteristics of mouse spermatozoa, such as more narrow, osmotically driven volume tolerance limits and the fact that relatively successful freezing can be obtained without the use of a permeating cryoprotective agent. The lack of important information regarding sperm cells fundamental cryobiological properties, including their osmotic and membrane permeability characteristics, has hindered progress in developing anything but empirically derived methods. Genetic differences between inbred mouse strains are reflected in motility and fertility characteristics of mouse sperm and contribute to the difficulty of developing successful cryopreservation methods. Recovery of live young from frozen sperm has been much more successful with sperm from hybrid mice than from most inbred strains. There have been no published reports of successful cryopreservation of rat sperm. Nevertheless, in mice, success in deriving live young from intracytoplasmic sperm injection using sperm frozen under suboptimal conditions raises the possibility of using this technique for the ultimate rescue of sperm regardless of the success of cryopreservation. This technique, however, requires additional development and verification of its efficacy before it will be suitable for general laboratory use. Although cryopreservation of mouse sperm is not yet universally successful, it can be used reliably to supplement cryopreservation of embryos and other germline cells or tissues for preserving biomedically important strains of mice for research.

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